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Sasampolan: Duterte will make miner Eric Gutierrez pay for tax perks on jets, choppers and destroying Agusan

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President Rodrigo Duterte is training his guns on influence peddlers who have used their connections to build their fortune at the expense of the government and even the environment.
And he doesn’t care if you’re well connected with political groups or with giant multinational firms.

Based on his speech during a reunion with San Beda classmates in Malacanang on 17 July 2016, Duterte is likely to make businessman Eric Gutierrez his Exhibit A in his serious campaign these rich parasites who suck the blood out of the country’s financial and natural resources.

“Itong mga elitista, pati itong mga yumaman, living off the fat of the land of the Philippines, walang mga ginawa kung hindi mag-koneksyon nila online,” said Duterte.

“Corruption will stop and I will take away the privilege of mga tax exemptions na malalaki. ‘Di niyo alam ‘yung mga helicopters nila, mga eroplano. Do not do that to me. Bayad kayong lahat. Marami dito: Gutierrez (you cannot) destroy Tubay in Agusan del Norte.” said Duterte.

Duterte is referring to the air fleet of Gutierrez, the owner of San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI), who lent out his choppers and private jets to defeated presidential bet Mar Roxas in the last elections. Gutierrez has been accused of using his connections to get tax exemptions for his airfleet. Gutierrez has denied these charges.

Gutierrez’s SRMI is registered as a small scale miner but it was able to ship out 1.8 million tons of ore to China worth P28 billion from 2006 to 2007.

It was fined P7 million by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that year but SRMI managed to continue its operations in the Agusan mines when it elevated its case to the Court of Appeals Supreme Court. SRMI lost its case in the CA and the SC.

Aside from Gutierrez and mining firms, Duterte said he would also go after logging companies who fail to live up to their commitment to rehabilitate the areas they exploit.

“You’re supposed to plant trees. Ngayon, pag wala akong makita na kahoy tumutubo dyan, I’ll cancel your paper. Kung multinational ka… Wala,” said Duterte.

Duterte assured he has no plans to bring any person or company down in his anti-corruption crusade. “Basta lahat, sumunod lang kayo sa batas. Walang bending, wala ‘yang pabalik-balikin mo,” said Duterte.